When someone says the word country my mind reaches back in time to the summer of 1978. I can feel the soft wetness of the mulberries beneath my feet, hear the sweet sounds of a baby calf I watched being delivered, and smell honeysuckles growing in intricately woven masses along the fence line.
My grandfather, a simple farmer, and local store owner spent much of his time out in the fields while my grandmother canned foods for the winter months, and tended to the flower gardens and chickens. The farm welcomed strays of all kinds providing a safe-haven; a place to eat and find shelter. Many of the strays produced generations of offspring and became family pets. Farm work was difficult and most days required long hours where my grandparents labored to keep the farm going. Together, Actress and Ralph reaped many rewards for their hard work including healthy foods such as fresh tomatoes, squash, lettuce, cucumbers, home-cured meats, and milk straight from farm animals. They took pride in their work ending the day with a few moments of relaxation and reflection on the front porch swing.
The small country home on the farm sat overlooking a babbling creek rich with life. Insects flew in elegant circles hovering over the water. Tiny fish frequented the creek attracting other visitors. Hours might pass in what seemed like moments as I sat by that creek noticing everything, feeling the rhythm of life. Horses and cows grazed nearby taking an occasional glance my way. I met a tortoise one day while sitting by the creek and gave it a home in a small box I had found lying around the farm. I remember my grandfather comforting me as tears fell when I set the growing tortoise free.
Many years have passed since I stood in the tall stalks of corn, smelled my grandmother’s cooking or fed grunting, mud covered pigs. I chose to follow other footsteps far from the life of a farmer adventuring out into the city, attending college and working in the social services field. I had never known just how much I missed or yearned to be back on the farm until it was too late.